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E. The Pain of Childbirth: Surprise, Surprise

Narrator: This is Science Today. Psychologist Robin DiMatteo of the University of California, Riverside did a study of women who had recently given birth for the first time. She found that no one had prepared them for the pain of childbirth.

DiMatteo: They had been told in their childbirth preparation classes and by people that they knew that it was uncomfortable, and it wasn't until they went into active labor that they realized that it was more than uncomfortable.

Narrator: Then, when they felt intense pain, they thought something was seriously wrong. DiMatteo says the reason for not preparing them was misguided.

DiMatteo: I think that many people are afraid to tell the mother ahead of time that the pain of childbirth is intense because they're afraid of scaring her, afraid of putting an extra emotional burden on her.

Narrator: DiMatteo says that's not a good strategy, because unexpected pain is harder to cope with.

DiMatteo: That it's better to prepare people for even intense pain and to teach them ways to cope with that pain.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Steve Tokar.